MFISH GIVES GO-AHEAD TO NZ'S LARGEST MARINE FARM
7 April 2004
The Ministry of Fisheries (MFish) has given the go-ahead to New Zealand's largest marine farm, a mussel farm in Hawke Bay.
In December 2003, MFish made a preliminary decision to grant the large-scale marine farm, subject to various conditions including: restricting the number of mussel bearing lines to 243 lines, monitoring the seafloor beyond 250m from the farm, monitoring juvenile rock lobster, and monitoring Undaria.
The purpose of the preliminary decision is to allow affected parties to provide additional information before a final decision is made. After the preliminary decision was released, commercial fishers outside of Hawke Bay raised concerns that the Napier farm might set a precedent for other large marine farms elsewhere in the country.
"This is not the case," said MFish Senior Fisheries Management Advisor Scott Williamson. "All marine farming permit applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, using the best available information. Each application is unique, and is required to demonstrate it would not have an undue adverse effect on fishing or any fisheries resource".
MFish has now assessed the existing information, plus additional information from the applicant and affected parties, and has made a final decision that 243 mussel-bearing lines at the application site would not have an undue adverse effect on fishing and fisheries resources.
"Granting Napier Mussels Limited's permit is a huge success for the aquaculture Industry," said Mr Williamson. "The Napier farm will increase by a third the amount of national water space allocated to marine farming in New Zealand. With the aquaculture industry currently going through a period of immense change, this decision should give the industry some level of confidence during this period."
The authorised 243 mussel bearing lines at the marine farm site will take roughly 15 years to develop. Over this time MFish expects the company to monitor the effects of the farm. If monitoring results show the effects are acceptable, MFish could review conditions of the permits to allow it to be fully developed.
For further information please contact:
Scott Williamson, Senior Fisheries Management Advisor, Ministry of Fisheries
Telephone 03 548 1069 or 027 268 7058 or
Dan Lees, Acting Senior Fisheries Management Advisor, Ministry of Fisheries
Telephone 03 548 1069 or 027 424 4549
- 2002 Napier Mussels Limited (NML) was granted resource consent by Hawke Bay Regional Council and Department of Conservation under the RMA. The resource consent (coastal permit) allows NML to develop the 2465 ha farm in 5 stages over 20 years (see below for development details)
Stage 1 = 24 mussel bearing lines
Stage 2 = 99 mussel bearing lines
Stage 3 = 243 mussel bearing lines
Stage 4 = 486 mussel bearing lines
Stage 5 = 918 mussel bearing lines
- Each stage can only proceed if monitoring shows the operating stage/s is not having a significant adverse effect on the environment.
Marine farming permit
- Before NML could start marine farming they needed to obtain a marine farming permit from the Ministry of Fisheries (MFish).
- August 2003 MFish started to process the 2465 ha application.
- Public consultation meetings were held on 25 August 2003 and 10 September 2003
- All three fishing sectors (commercial, recreational and customary) were invited to comment on the application. Commercial and recreational fishers objected to the application
- December 2003 MFish made a preliminary decision to grant the application
- The development has been restricted to stage 3 however, until monitoring confirms the effect of the farm on the fisheries environment..
Reasons for the decision
- NML's marine farming permit application is the largest to be evaluated in New Zealand to-date. There is little information available on large-scale marine farming effects.
- The site appears suitable for marine farming
- MFish believes fishers will still be able to catch their allocations/bag limits outside of the farm
- MFish is concerned about the wider effects of the farm on fisheries resources. In particular, juvenile lobster settlement on the structures (leading to mortality and not recruiting to the fishery) and plankton depletion (detrimental effect to the aquatic food chain and loss of recruitment into fisheries).
- Monitoring will provide better information to review permit conditions to approve stage 4 and 5.